Saturday, February 03, 2007

Senate: Screen all cargo on passenger flights

In early January, I posted a story in this blog about a plan by the Democrats -- who now control the U.S. Congress -- to beef up homeland security. Central to their security agenda is the implementation of recommendations of the 9/11 Commission.

Earlier this week, members of the U.S. Senate pressed the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to screen all cargo carried on passenger airplanes. According to an article from Congressional Quarterly Today, republished on the Airport Business website:
At a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation hearing Wednesday on aviation security, Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., urged TSA chief Kip Hawley to come up with technological innovations that would help secure air cargo, such as blast-proof cargo containers.

"Congress is going to be pushing on this subject: You need to get ahead of the curve to come up with some improvements there," Lott said. "You need to move more aggressively."

Hawley said the TSA is moving as quickly as possible given cost and privacy considerations inherent in some new technologies, such as "backscatter" scanners that are both expensive and physically revealing.

Hawley appealed to lawmakers not to mandate screening of all air cargo on passenger planes, urging instead a risk-based approach to deciding which cargo should be screened and which should not.

"For a very small incremental benefit of security it would take away resources that we could more productively apply elsewhere," Hawley said.
Earlier this year, the House of Representatives passed legislation that incorporates many of the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, including a requirement that all air cargo on passenger planes be screened.